“I see something, I think and then I create.” Wonder who said this… a world-renowned scientist, maybe? They’re actually the words of a budding designer; the ‘world-renowned’ suffix will eventually come.
15-year old Pooja aspires to be a designer and finds that everything she learns in Art for Akanksha’s Design Class prepares her for it. After being part of art class, she sees things through a different and creative prism, and loves the space she has to explore her creative abilities. A stark contrast, she feels, to her school. Design Class gives her art, and her art gives Pooja the taste of being a designer. “We can make anything we want here. Because of art, I am celebrating my dreams.”
“Pooja was confused. She wanted to be a fashion designer, but wasn’t sure how to pursue her dream,” says her mother. “Design class allowed her hidden talents to come out. It also boosted her confidence level and English skills. This became the best place for her to practice English. She would come home and talk about all the things that happened in art class.”
Her mother is convinced, Pooja will make her mark as a designer. And she waits for it to happen with complete faith in her daughter’s abilities.
Sana had been a student at Akanksha for many years and it’s no surprise that the place drew her back for more…
Eight year old Sana had been told by an aunt that she should join Akanksha if she was interested. What was Akanksha? What could it do for her? Little Sana hardly thought about it. Her mother was supportive of the idea and when Sana went to the Akanksha centre, a new world opened up for her. And what a world – here, teachers, or as they are fondly called didi and bhaiya, didn’t beat students if they made mistakes. They gently guided the children and made the process of learning fun. Sana’s years at Akanksha became a time of discovery and joy.
Ten years later…
Sana was 18. Her family needed financial support and she had to get a job. A month with a corporate made her realise that she didn’t enjoy the work environment. Her familiarity with Akanksha brought her back and soon, she was helping design and paint products with Art for Akanksha. She found that the place offered new learning experiences every day and this became the space to “explore and discover” herself. “The environment is so good out here, it’s like people can only love you,” she smiles.
For many students like her, who came from backgrounds where parents weren’t educated, the Akanksha teachers’ guidance was valuable. The teachers even encouraged parents to get children to continue with their education – something Sana is glad about today. “Many of my friends are married, but now my parents know I am capable of earning and being independent. I have been working with the art department for many years now. It is here that I have learnt to make choices for myself.”
Her Art Centre teacher, Rajshree, beams with pride every time she witnesses Sana’s efficient support to Akanksha’s art department. “Sana was a shy and loving child and art brought out the creativity in her. She has evolved into a confident and smart woman, who has discovered her potential. This clearly reaffirms how Akanksha and art have impacted our children.”
He has been interested in colours for as long as he can remember. He enjoys thinking out of the box. Discovering different art forms and famous artists from around the world is his hobby.
No wonder, Swapnil Chavan loves Art for Akanksha’s design classes. For him, the classes are like Pandora’s Box waiting to be opened – every weekend offers something new and exciting to learn.
Before design classes came along, Swapnil spent his weekends doing homework. Once the classes began, life changed. “It was a time of enjoyment in my busy life,” he says. Not just that, he realised that participating in design classes increased his confidence. He found his brain thinking faster. Mathematics, science, toying with numbers and conducting experiments – our young Picasso began to find it all extremely interesting.
“He has grown exceptionally in many ways – his English improved, he excelled in all the other subjects, and today ‘he’s on a different planet’!” Says Rupa didi, Swapnil’s Centre teacher who finds the Akanksha topper immensely focussed.
Working with a calm demeanour and sincerity, Swapnil has won over everyone including his Design Class teacher, Salli didi, who finds his attitude of giving his best to everything and his sense of perfection very inspiring. “I go deep into everything I see and it’s because of art. Here in Design Class I have found a new world,” he smiles.
We hope his discoveries in this new world take him places.
Board exam score: 95% (Akanksha topper)
“I can see a thing, and inside it, and what is happening. It’s the imagination of art.” Striking aren’t they, the words of a 14-year-old who appreciates the almost magical effect of art on her life?
Mansi discovered this new perspective through her journey in design class, which spurred on her love for bringing alive new thoughts and ideas. Her designs give her the space to be unique and let her imagination soar. “Art gives me life. It makes me stand out from others,” she says.
She also realises that art refreshes her and prepares her to take on her studies with a renewed focus. Moving outside the four walls of the classroom, she feels a deep sense of belonging and kinship with her community, having experienced all this and more in design class.
Mansi dreams of becoming a doctor. She feels confident and equipped to stay focussed, study hard and look into the finer details of things. Today, more than anything else, she values her ability to imagine – it has been nurtured and sharpened in art class. And this, she is confident, will someday complement her efforts in healing people.
Board exam score: 81%
“We place our minds on paper.”
Sounds like a psychoanalysis technique or a personality test exercise? It’s merely what Ashish Kamble does at the Akanksha Design Class.
Initially, Ashish didn’t enjoy the art sessions. His mother remembers the time he disliked drawing, made his sister do all his art homework and his teachers complained about his work. Today the same teachers appreciate his creativity. Even Ashish’s Design Class teacher, Salimunissa didi points out that “…though he wasn’t interested earlier, slowly, he began to be influenced by what he learnt, especially Van Gogh’s art. He learnt art wasn’t about perfection.” Things changed with this realisation: art doesn’t need to be perfect; it needs to be thought through.
Today, this 14-year old loves the art sessions as they let him have fun and get deeply involved in his work. Vidhya didi, Ashish’s Centre teacher talks of the boy’s unrelenting determination. “Earlier, he would withdraw into a shell if he couldn’t accept feedback. Later he not only started accepting feedback gracefully, but also worked on himself with utmost determination.” She also saw him grow in confidence, as he became more social over the course of his art classes. According to his mother the positive impacts are visible in school too. “Design class taught me to give 100% into everything I do and I am doing that with my schoolwork as well,” says Ashish.
This change isn’t limited to academics. Ashish now has bigger dreams for his life. He initially wanted to be a dancer, but now aspires to be a computer engineer. Why? “I want to make things different,” he chirps. “I notice colours in the world around me. How we bring those colours into real life is what matters.”
A Da Vinci waiting to create his masterpieces? We wish him luck.
Board exam score: 85%